On Monday 7 February Gamilaraay/Gomeroi people, traditional owners and Native Title holders of the NSW North West, protested outside the Federal Court in Sydney.
In the Court the National Native Title Tribunal was hearing the application of gas miner Santos to overturn the Gamilaraay’s Native Title rights over the Pilliga forest and adjoining land where they plan to develop an industrial gas field.
Sydney Knitting Nannas and other climate and environmental activists joined the protest in solidarity.
If the National Native Title Tribunal overturns Native Title they will remove the final legal barrier to the Narrabri Gas Project.
Suellyn Tighe sent a message to the rally from her home in Coonabarabran. Her talk to the rally put the Santos attack on Gomeroi/Gamilaraay rights in its historical context – the latest step in the long colonial undermining of First Nations’ connection to country. “But all their attempts have failed” Suellyn said, “First Nations people are still here, still connected to country and fighting to save it.”
“Gamilaraay people are under siege from multiple fossil fuel companies ripping our country apart.” Santos, Whitehaven and other companies with coal mines in Narrabri, Boggabri and Werris Creek are supporting one another. “Nature is being shattered” she said “how much more can our Mother Earth endure?”
Suellyn said the inherently racist Native Title Tribunal cannot be trusted by First Nations people. She called for First Nations people to be front and centre of decisions about their land, with the power to determine what happens on their own country. “The ability to veto any detrimental development is essential. Australia’s future must be based on ethically, environmentally and morally solid principles that do not ignore the voices and cultures of Australia’s First Nations.”
Another Gamilaraay speaker, Raymond Weatherall, invited Australians from all backgrounds to walk with the Gamilaraay to protect country from further damage by mining companies. Knitting Nannas accept and await the decision of the Native Title Tribunal.